A graphic displays a cartoon hand holding a phone and several cartoon people in the background conversing with each other.
Boost client satisfaction by diversifying communication channels & prioritizing customer feedback

In the ever-evolving propane and commercial fuel industry, staying ahead requires embracing new tools and applications specific to your operational needs while maintaining a customer-centric approach to everyday business. Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, improving efficiency and enhancing customer experience will be crucial. Here are four key strategies to efficiently build your customer community.

1. Make It Easier for Customers to Participate

If you’re reading the digital issue of this magazine, are you reading this story on your phone? There’s a good chance you are, as research data tells us that digital devices are by far the most common way Americans access their news. Even if you’re reading from a desktop, I bet you picked up your phone in the last 15 minutes — or you will in the next 15 — to complete a task or simply scroll. Whether we like it or not, we’re increasingly attached to our mobile devices. Our lives are more convenient because of them in many ways. They serve as the on-the-go command center for our busy lives — from staying on top of the hectic family schedule, quickly replying to an urgent email, checking in on friends and even measuring our workouts. (How’s that New Year’s resolution coming?)

Having instant access and manageability also extends to how your customers relate to your business. They’re looking for ways to make both life and work tasks easier and more efficient. Offering a customer portal and branded phone app is a simple way to make it easier for customers to participate in your services.


An integrated portal and app offer a user-friendly platform for your customers to place fuel delivery orders, sign up for special pricing and budget plans, request service work, make secure online payments and more — all while enhancing brand awareness and loyalty. A portal also allows customers to view their transaction history, see when their next delivery is scheduled and track their fuel usage, among other activities.

By integrating a phone app, you not only build brand awareness, but also increase the probability of a prospect doing business with your company. You also give customers access to their account information, fuel ordering, payments, equipment, service requests and contracts — all through their phone or tablet. A branded phone app not only appeals to the tech-savvy customer demographic, but it also cuts down on phone calls and emails coming into your office.

2. Incentivize Portal & App Usage

We know that technology can make our lives easier. Now, how do we make sure we’re keeping that technology relevant and exciting? The portal and phone app can become a channel to share timely alerts, personalized recommendations and exclusive perks unique to your individual customers. By creating offers and promotions directly within the app, you can not only incentivize customer loyalty but also foster a stronger future allegiance. The mutual result is a deepened, longer-lasting connection for both parties.

It’s not dissimilar to the app I use from my favorite sandwich shop. I check out what in-app promos they’re offering and chances are I’m going to order a sub if the deal is right. I know the app is where I go not only to place the order but to make sure I’m getting the most bang for my buck. Plus, a well-timed offer really hits the spot and makes me feel like the shop knows what I need, when I need it.

Offers and promotions attract customers, increase sales and encourage repeat business — ultimately enhancing return on investment through heightened revenue generation and customer retention. As a business, you can keep track of customer portal app usage beyond offers and promotions to see when they’re increasing fuel orders, making automatic payments, and placing phone calls and emails.

You can also measure adoption rates, usage and new customers from the dashboard within your enterprise resource planning software. When you incentivize customers, you’re ultimately making an investment in each of these areas.

3. Diversify Communications

In the dynamic environment of your business, an app is just one of the channels in which you can communicate with customers. A well-rounded approach across multiple customer touch points facilitates reach, accessibility and responsiveness across different demographics. Even for those customers who prefer communications via the portal, you’re missing out if you’re not also embracing and aligning multiple communication channels.

One of the most important words here when it comes to improving your efficiency and the customer experience is “aligning.” Ensure your messages across channels are consistent so they strengthen your brand and boost customer engagement. Audit your channels regularly and analyze metrics to see what messages are resonating in each channel.

As part of your customer portal and branded phone app, your omni-channel strategy might include:

  • Email marketing: Use targeted email campaigns to encourage referral programs. Implement a “we want you back” program for former or disengaged customers.
  • Text messaging: Reduce the number of delivery issues by sending text messages to customers letting them know your team is on its way. In advance via text, remind customers of their appointments and help hold them accountable.
  • Invoices and statements: Use the “paperwork” part of operations to your advantage. Promote service contracts and budget plans. Drive them to the app and other channels.

4. Receive & Act on Feedback

At our company, we often say, “Feedback is a gift.” Hearing directly from customers helps us improve what we offer and how we’re offering it. Whether positive or negative, feedback offers valuable insights. Of course, there will always be unofficial anecdotes from the field. While those are good touch points, successful businesses also implement more official customer and customer service team surveys to help measure performance.

For example, you can conduct surveys through your customer service team about the quality of your service, ease of app use, general information availability and more. Surveys can help these key members of your workforce ask questions and share concerns while making it easy for customers to participate. Surveys help you uncover who might be great advocates for your business, and personal network surveys in particular can be a tool to help assess customers’ knowledge of the products and services you offer. Being efficient in delivering a holistic customer experience that drives growth and longevity doesn’t need to be complicated. As a propane and fuel oil delivery business, you can build a robust customer community when you simplify engagement, motivate with rewards, expand your channels and collect valuable input. Try implementing those strategies and let me know how your community responds. (How’s that for asking for feedback!)

Mike Procopio is a project operations manager in the enterprise productivity segment at PDI Technologies, where he helps customers realize the value of PDI propane and commercial fueling solutions (heritage Blue Cow Software Ignite products). Connect with Procopio by email at mike.procopio@pditechnologies.com or visit pditechnologies.com to learn more.


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